The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 6, 2013

Windfall for the future

Turbines have power to deliver to state coffers

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The State of Alabama is receiving power from wind farms in Garfield and Grant counties after a multi-million-dollar investment in the area.

The farms produce electrical power through a purchase agreement with Alabama Power. TradeWind Energy built the farms and later sold its interest to Enel Green Power North America, of Boston. General Electric has a 49 percent interest in the system.

Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance, said there are 141 turbines with a maximum capacity of 235 megawatts. The project took about 12 months for completion, starting in November 2011 and ending just before Christmas 2012. To qualify for the federal production tax credit, the project had a deadline of Dec. 31.

TradeWind Energy of Lenexa, Kan., was the developer. The company started leasing land three years ago, Kisling said.

“They set up MET towers all around northwest Oklahoma. They put them on the tops of buildings and on the top of cell towers to check the wind speed at 300 feet,” Kisling said.

The company then began leasing land, starting quietly, but it soon became public. Two projects eventually were funded, one between Enid and Garber and one by Covington. A third project near Hunter was not funded, he said.

The farms bring in approximately $5 million annually between royalties paid and ad valorem taxes. Joel Quinn, superintendent of schools at Pond-Creek Hunter, said the wind farm will affect the school funding formula, which will keep between $500,000 and $600,000 out of his funding for six months.

“It should be beneficial in the future, but we won’t get any money this year. They took a five-year manufacturer’s exemption. The state will reimburse us the same amount we were receiving, but we will get it at the end of the year,” Quinn said.

Quinn said he has known the money is coming and is working to make sure the school system remains solvent. Most of the wind turbines are in the Pond Creek-Hunter district, but there also are a few in the Hillsdale district and one in the Billings school district, he said.

Garfield County Assessor Wade Patterson said the wind farm has not yet been valued by the Oklahoma Tax Commission. He said that probably will occur in May or June. Patterson anticipates the value will be between $300 million and $375 million and, if so, will generate approximately $4 million in taxes.

“That’s just speculative,” he said. He does not track royalty payments.

Former state representative Curt Roggow, who is a lobbyist for Oklahoma Wind Coalition and also for the city of Enid, said there have been a number of policy changes locally and federally, but Oklahoma continues to maintain production tax credits. Some states have dropped those credits, causing a drop in wind farm projects in parts of the U.S. and a slowdown in ordering wind turbine parts.

The company that developed Chisholm View Wind Project has been recognized by American Wind Energy Association for innovating the means to deliver Oklahoma wind energy to customers in the southeastern United States.